Thursday, December 12, 2013
Visiting a Maine beach in March 2010, Harold Johnson was shocked by the ocean-borne debris left by recent storms. He grabbed a garbage bag and a camera, and hasn’t looked back.
Since then he has spent most of his free time studying marine pollution, coastal ecosystems, and the mysteries and science of ocean and shore.
Copyeditor and writer by trade, historian and archaeologist at heart, Johnson’s philosophy is simple: Dig below the surface, travel the currents, make the connections, learn. Then share what you learn. He lives in Saco with his wife and young daughter. Follow on Twitter @FlotsamDiaries.
A few days ago I blogged about the surprising magic of those places where river meets sea. I included a photo of Goosefare Brook flowing out into Saco Bay.
I decided afterward to turn around 180 -- to trace Goosefare Brook back to its source. One tiny little winding artery, emptying its waters into the Gulf of Maine day in & day out.
Goosefare Brook manages, somehow, to miss southern Maine’s major river, the Saco. The Saco runs for 120 miles, starting high in the White Mountains in New Hampshire; its watershed drains over 1,700 square miles! Yet the humble Goosefare collects its waters right beside the Saco, sometimes within a mile of it, and never empties into it.
Here’s the brook running out under Seaside Avenue at the edge of Saco and Ocean Park, toward the sea.
Any coastline is a marvel -- but I believe a coastline at the edge of a river mouth is magical.
At first glance, that may not make much sense. Water flowing into water, big deal.
But it’s not just water flowing into water. It’s two completely different worlds, meeting and mixing and melding in front of you.
Third part of my series on a visit to Drake’s Island Beach in Wells a couple weeks back.
As I mentioned, this beach is a study in contrasts. Its southern tip, near the mouth of the Webhannet River, is backed by a deep healthy dune system.
A week ago I visited Drake’s Island Beach in Wells. As I mentioned in Monday’s blog, this beach is a true study in contrasts.
Along much of its stretch, the waves roll in unchecked, unslowed. Any debris brought in by one wave is washed back out by the next. The sands are left smooth & clean.
That’s actually the experience you get at most of the popular tourist beaches. Those beaches are popular precisely because the ocean leaves sand behind -- and nothing else. After all, few people will travel long distances to lie out amid seaweed.
So people flock to the sands of Old Orchard Beach:
On Friday I took a drive down to Drake’s Island in Wells. We had visited it one cool spring morning in 2012, and I’d been meaning to get back forever.
The beach lies at the heavily-armored mouth of the Webhannet River. The Webhannet runs through protected marshland into Wells Harbor, then out into the open ocean by way of a 1960s Army Corps of Engineers jetty.
Friday was a moody morning, clouds rippling overhead in waves of their own. I arrived around 10:30, a bit before low tide. I parked in the well-maintained gravel lot, overlooking the rotting remains of an earlier generation’s seawall.